Tag Archives: War on Terrorism

Ahmed Mohamed Agrees To Plea Deal

BREAKING

The Tampa Tribune reports:

Former University of South Florida student Ahmed Mohamed has agreed to plead guilty to providing material support to terrorists, according to a signed 12-page plea agreement entered onto the docket in U.S. District Court.

This is one of the pair arrested near the military base in South Carolina with explosive materials in their car.

UPDATE: More on the story from the Lakeland Ledger:

Mohamed, 26, faces up to 15 years in prison. A sentencing date has not been set. , The plea agreement was filed in Tampa federal court today.

[...]

Mohamed was arrested Aug. 4 near Goose Creek, S.C., with Youssef Megahed, 22, another former USF student. A sheriff’s deputy stopped the men for speeding and searched their car when he became suspicious. He found what prosecutors said were low-grade explosives in the trunk.

A federal grand jury in Tampa indicted both men for illegally transporting explosive material across state lines. Mohamed faced additional, more serious, charges that included accusations of violating his student visa by possessing a firearm, demonstrating how to make an explosive device through a YouTube video and providing material support to terrorists.

Obaidah al Masri Dead?

The BBC, Reuters, and Fox News are quoting an un-named U.S. official suggesting that Obaidah al Masri has died in Pakistan.

Senior al Qaeda planner Obaidah al Masri, considered a key suspect in the 2005 London subway and bus bombings and a foiled 2006 plot to blow up commercial airliners, is believed to have died, a U.S. official said on Wednesday.

“The sense is that he is dead,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. McClatchy newspapers reported that Masri died of hepatitis in Pakistan. The official said Masri appeared to have died of natural causes.

“He was a major operational figure,” the U.S. official said of al Masri, a pseudonym.

He confirmed that Masri was suspected in the plot to blow up airliners over the Atlantic Ocean. The Washington Post in 2006 also said he was believed to be al Qaeda’s conduit to British-Pakistani cells that carried out the July 7, 2005, public transit bombings. The bombings killed 56 people. [Reuters]

FOX News notices that,

The news of al-Masri’s death comes just hours before the House Select Intelligence Committee is set to hold an open hearing on “Assessing the Fight Against Al Qaeda.”

[...]

Terrorism investigators are expected to present evidence showing that the terror organization’s network has weakened, according to prepared testimony obtained by FOX News. Experts will also discuss the hydra-like nature of Al Qaeda leadership in explaining the difficulty in fighting the terror organization, as new militants continually emerge.

That “hydra-like” nature is one of the key differences and challenges of the war against radical Islam and terrorism. Any good news regarding the death or capture of these so called leaders has to be tempered with the understanding that there are more cockroaches ready to crawl out from under whatever rock we turn over. Still, buh bye. Hope you like it warm.

This Will Get The Attention of Congress

I heard this on Paul Harvey while driving in to work this morning. Andrew M. Grossman and Robert Alt have an opinion piece in today’s Washington Times that includes this suggestion:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi simply refused to schedule a vote on a bill to make those authorities permanent — a bill that had passed the Senate with strong bipartisan support. Instead, the House spent its last day in town before Mrs. Pelosi jetted off to her daughter’s wedding working on an unenforceable resolution to thumb its nose at the Bush administration.

The House’s liberal leadership, in short, put political grandstanding above national security, wasting time with show hearings featuring Roger Clemens and debating a politically driven contempt citation. Perhaps if Osama bin Laden were juicing with steroids, we could get the House to take the terrorist threat seriously.

Isn’t it comforting to observe the priorities of congress?

Iraq and the 2008 Elections

Iraq and the overall war on terrorism will be a factor in the 2008 elections. The questions are, to what degree will the war be a factor and how will conditions on the ground influence voters thoughts and votes?

It is something of which the candidates are most assuredly aware.

Some Democrats say frustrated voters have given up on altering President Bush’s handling of the war, and will make Republicans pay in 2008. Others say Democratic candidates are stubbornly and dangerously out of step with an improving situation, and their most promising campaign issue may prove far less potent by next November.

Of course the importance and influence varies from voter to voter. Much of this will play out in the primaries where the voters are likely to be much more politically active.

Iraq is going to be a real problem for the Democrats.

While the Iraq situation is somewhat fluid, the top Democratic presidential contenders are locked in their Iraq-is-a-disaster message because anti-war voters play such a huge role in the party’s primaries, several politicians said. It’s possible the message will sound a bit off-key by mid-2008.

“The Democratic Party has become emotionally invested in a narrative of defeat and retreat in Iraq — reluctant to acknowledge the progress our troops are now achieving,” said Sen. Joe Lieberman, a hawkish independent from Connecticut who was the Democrats’ vice presidential nominee in 2000. “If Democrats don’t take off their ideological and partisan blinders,” he said, “they risk compromising our national security and losing next year’s election.”

Of course Joe Lieberman is an exception. Quite a few others on the left disagree with his assessment.

“The American people are more negative about Iraq than ever before and want a change,” said Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., one of his party’s top strategists. “They’ve concluded what they’ve concluded about Iraq. They’re done.”

Moreover, he said, voters will take out their anger on Republicans next year because the great majority of GOP lawmakers and presidential candidates have supported the administration’s main war policies.

“George Bush is on the ballot in 2008,” Emanuel said.

That attitude, that they are running against George Bush in 2008, is silly and wrong. Not that I don’t understand what they’re trying to do, tie the candidates to the President. That has been a common tactic since the beginning of electoral politics. This is just different. The left have such a blue-white hate for George Bush that they are not just trying to pose an identity with the current administration and it’s policies, they are going over the top and attempting to hypothetically and retroactively defeat George Bush for 2000 and 2004.

But to get back to the issue of Iraq as it relates to the 2008 elections, the left have invested heavily in defeat. The deny it, but their actions speak quite loudly. As do some of their words. The most striking example, if perhaps the most honest, was S.C. Rep James Clyburn who said,

I think there would be enough support in that group to want to stay the course and if the Republicans were to stay united as they have been, then it would be a problem for us.

And it is a real problem for them. How do they appeal to their base, especially the MooreOnCodeKos cut and run portion of their base, which is by far the most vocal and influential at this point of the primary season.

Gaius at Blue Crab Boulevard points to a NYT article that is, “acknowledging that Democrats are having to tapdance with all their might to try to avoid the trap they set for themselves on Iraq. They bet heavily on an American defeat and now have to face the fact that the situation in Iraq is improving despite their efforts and pronouncements.” Part of what he quotes,

While the Democratic candidates are continuing to assail the war — a popular position with many of the party’s primary voters — they run the risk that Republicans will use those critiques to attack the party’s nominee in the election as defeatist and lacking faith in the American military.

If security continues to improve, President Bush could become less of a drag on his party, too, and Republicans may have an easier time zeroing in on other issues, such as how the Democrats have proposed raising taxes in difficult economic times.

Gaius sized up the problem very well.

The Democrats bet the farm on defeat. If it does not happen – or if the Democrat’s Congressional tactics end up causing a funding crisis just when things are going well, they just might get one big surprise next year. Riding a tiger is fairly straightforward in theory. The big problem with riding a tiger happens when you try to get off.

And it is the reliance on defeat for their political fortunes that has the left looking for a way to spin the position they have staked out.

Ed Morrisey has this analysis:

For the past year, the Democrats have portrayed the American effort in Iraq as a failure. Their leader in the Senate, Harry Reid, publicly announced that we had lost and that we should immediately retreat. Their leading candidate for President, Hillary Clinton, all but called the commander of American forces in Iraq a liar when he reported on the progress that even the Times now acknowledges as real and obvious.

Democrats have a problem larger than just the message. The substance of their policy remains defeatist. They claim that they want a new strategy in Iraq, all but oblivious that the new strategy adopted in January has proven very successful. Their strategy — smaller forces, disengaged from a reeling enemy — would actually return us to the failing strategy of 2006. It would provide al-Qaeda in Iraq and the militias a respite just when they have been pushed to the last extremity.

The spin they are trying to engage in is to say that even if the conditions are improving that enough hasn’t been done politically.

Democratic officials are quick to note that the overall trend toward less violence has not resulted in the type of Iraqi political reconciliation that might lead to a stable government after most U.S. troops leave.

“The purpose of the surge was to create a secure environment in which the Iraqi government would have the opportunity to make the political change” needed to stabilize the country, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., recently told reporters. “They have not taken advantage of that opportunity.”

I’m not going make any prediction about what impact Iraq will have on the 2008 election. As Michael O’Hanlon notes in the AP story linked above, “people make predictions about the Iraq war’s impact on the next election at their peril.”

However, if the left continues to place all pf their eggs in the basket of defeat, I may have to take my chances.

He’s Back!

After nearly three months of being out of the blogging mix, President Tom has “persuaded” Chad Evans to jump back in to things with this post at In The Bullpen. Here’s a taste of what you’ll see when you read the whole thing:

The blunder by Columbia University is not in trying to open dialogue, but rather believing it would serve the purpose they wished it to. Beaming across Iranian state-run television is Ahmadinejad explaining his solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict and the oblivious audience cheering as they did not recognize the slight of hand. Today was a victory for both Ahmadinejad and Islamism, given to them by Columbia University and dirtied in the blood of American and allied soldiers, innocent Iraqis, Israelis, Turks and, perhaps most unfortunate, innocent Iranians.

Welcome back, Chad. Don’t be a stranger.

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If You Don’t Believe General Petraeus. . .

. . .will you believe the troops on the ground?

Soldiers in Iraq Back Petraeus Testimony

FORWARD OPERATING BASE DELTA, Iraq (AP) – At this wind-swept base near the Iranian border, the main points of Gen. David Petraeus’ testimony to Congress were met with widespread agreement among soldiers: The American troop buildup is working, but the military needs more time.

Most of the soldiers at FOB Delta, some 100 miles southeast of Baghdad, were out on patrol or sleeping when Petraeus’ comments were broadcast late Monday and Tuesday in Iraq.

But some heard it and others have read about it, and say they agree with their commander’s assessment.

I was able to watch and liveblog most of the General’s testimony before the House committees. I did not see yesterday’s Senate questioning. The impression I was left with from many of the pols on the left was the sense that they didn’t care what the General, or Ambassador Crocker, had to say. Their minds were already made up.

Many on the left spent the days leading up to the General’s appearances attempting to preemptively dismiss his coming assessment. It’s just not what they want to hear, in spite of his honest portrayal of conditions.

Those who are there, doing the work, have a much clearer understanding than any member of Congress.

Staff Sgt. Matthew Nicholls of the 71st Medical Detachment, visiting FOB Delta from his post in southern Iraq to do an assessment, said the military still needs time to clean up mistakes made after the 2003 invasion, including the need to build an Iraqi army from scratch and to secure the borders.

“I think our initial assessment was too rosy,” he said after reading about the hearings while sitting in the library at the recreation center. “It takes time to build an army and I think we should’ve secured the borders right away.”

The 36-year-old from Mobile, Ala., also said American politicians need to be more understanding.

They can be critical because they are politicians and their main goal is to be re-elected, but they see a much more limited piece than the troops on the ground,” he said.

“What happens in Washington D.C. when somebody signs a piece of paper doesn’t necessarily make it here in the desert,” he said. “You can’t make everybody come together. Sometimes the best you can do is find intermediaries and that takes time.”

This young Sargent gets it as well:

Sgt. Nathaniel Killip, 24, of Indianapolis, caught part of the general’s presentation on TV and said he agreed that withdrawing all U.S. troops or setting a date to do so before Iraqi security forces have proven themselves ready to take over would open the doors for insurgents to attack.

“They’re just going to lay back and wait until it’s a softer target,” he said.

Killip said the troop buildup had made a noticeable difference since more forces arrived at FOB Delta in June, pointing to a dramatic drop in rocket and mortar attacks against the base in the past two weeks.

The men and women of our military in Iraq provide a much better endorsement of General Petraeus than any two faced member of Congress who thanks the General for his service and in the next breath says we think you’re lying.

Staff Sgt. Nicholls got it exactly right. Let me repeat the quote I highlighted above. “They can be critical because they are politicians and their main goal is to be re-elected, but they see a much more limited piece than the troops on the ground.”

It’s time they started listening to those troops, and the General whose assessment they back up.

A War We Might Just Win

The NYT opinion piece, A War We Just Might Win, by Michael E. O’Hanolon and Kenneth M. Pollack is sure to be the subject of much discussion today. At least on the conservative side of the blogosphere.

Viewed from Iraq, where we just spent eight days meeting with American and Iraqi military and civilian personnel, the political debate in Washington is surreal. The Bush administration has over four years lost essentially all credibility. Yet now the administration’s critics, in part as a result, seem unaware of the significant changes taking place.

Here is the most important thing Americans need to understand: We are finally getting somewhere in Iraq, at least in military terms. As two analysts who have harshly criticized the Bush administration’s miserable handling of Iraq, we were surprised by the gains we saw and the potential to produce not necessarily “victory” but a sustainable stability that both we and the Iraqis could live with.

The conclusion of the article is not going to sit well with the left.

How much longer should American troops keep fighting and dying to build a new Iraq while Iraqi leaders fail to do their part? And how much longer can we wear down our forces in this mission? These haunting questions underscore the reality that the surge cannot go on forever. But there is enough good happening on the battlefields of Iraq today that Congress should plan on sustaining the effort at least into 2008.

Ken McCracken at Willisms points to this article and another one by O’Hanolon and Pollack’s Brookings Institute compatriot Peter W. Rodman and has this observation.

Rodman first tells us that because things have vastly improved in Iraq, it makes it much harder for the anti-war types to end the war in a way that does not make the Democrats own the inevitable defeat that follows:

The huge strategic stakes in the Middle East argue for resisting calls for any U.S. withdrawal not warranted by conditions in Iraq. The irony is that whoever is elected president next year — from whichever party — will come to understand this better than anyone.

No, the left and the Surrender Monkey base is not going to like this at all. Talk Left puts it this way, “I have a new litmus test for the Dem Presidential candidates – they must promise not to have Michael O’Hanlon and Ken Pollock in their administration.”

Now let’s wait for the response from Congress.

UPDATE: As I predicted, there is a torrent of discussion on this article. I will try to add some of the comentary later, but for now here is the Memeorandum link.

Eight Held in UK Terror Probe

Authorities in the UK now have eight people held in connection with the recent terror activities and the related investigation.

An eighth person has been arrested in connection with car bomb attacks on Glasgow Airport and London, Scotland Yard said.

The man was arrested at an undisclosed location and is currently being held in custody, police said. Seven others, including one woman, have already been arrested as part of the “fast-moving” inquiry.

UK Terror Update

Here is a roundup on the latest news and reaction to the terrorist attacks in London and Glasgow.

UPDATE 12:15 Eastern:

The U.S. is adding more air marshals on flights to Europe.

The U.S. is adding air marshals to overseas flights because of concerns about potential terrorism threats originating in Britain and Europe, the homeland security chief said Sunday.

[...]

The U.S. increased the number of air marshals on flights between the United States and Europe last August and stepped up the pace over the past few months, Chertoff said. Last August, British police foiled an alleged plot by Muslim extremists to use liquid explosives to blow up as many as 10 flights between the United States and Britain.

“We haven’t singled out Glasgow until a couple of days ago as a particular location for focus, but there has been a strategy of mixing up the deployment of these air marshals, sometimes more in one destination, sometimes more in another destination,” he said.

“Going forward, we will be doing some enhanced air marshal work and similar types of activities with respect to U.K. travel.”

While some may paint this as over reaction, it is, regardless of the somewhat humorous outcome, a correct response.

Authorities found a suspicious package and evacuated the American Airlines terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Sunday, but the package proved harmless, officials said.

The package was found on the curb at 10:20 a.m., said Steve Coleman, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

The NYPD bomb squad determined there was no danger, he said.

“It turned out to be a package containing cologne,” Coleman said.

Terminal operations at JFK are back to normal.

———-Original Post———-

U.K. police make 5th terror arrest

Police searched several houses near Glasgow International Airport on Sunday in connection with a fiery attack on its main terminal and a foiled car bomb plot in London, and police arrested a fifth suspect in the case.

Britain’s new prime minister, Gordon Brown, said the country was dealing with terrorists associated with al-Qaida. And Lord Stevens, Brown’s new terrorism adviser, said the two attacks in Britain indicate that “al-Qaida has imported the tactics of Baghdad and Bali to the streets of the UK.”

Four suspects were in police custody Sunday — and a fifth man was under guard in hospital — after a flaming Jeep crashed into a Scottish airport on Saturday and two car bomb plots were foiled in central London on Friday.

Here at home, U.S. tightens security at some airports

U.S. airports and mass transit systems will tighten security in response to apparent terrorist incidents in Britain, the Bush administration said Saturday.

The United States, however, is not raising its terror alert status, President Bush’s spokesman and the Homeland Security secretary said. “There is no indication of any specific or credible threat to the United States — no change in the overall security level,” Tony Snow told reporters in Maine.

Britain raised its security alert to the highest level possible, an indication that terrorist attacks are imminent.

Acting out of “an abundance of caution” during the upcoming Fourth of July holidays, Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff said the government is putting in place plans to increase security at airports, on mass transit and at transportation facilities.

I will update if there are any new developments.

First London, Now Glasgow

UPDATE II: Via Fox News

In response, Britain raised its security alert level to critical — the highest possible level indicating terrorist attacks are imminent.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said she had raised the level and ordered security to be tightened in response to events in London and Scotland over last 48 hours.

———-==Original Post==———-

Following on the heels of yesterday’s news in London is this out of Glasgow, Scotland:

Two men rammed a flaming sport utility vehicle into the main terminal of Glasgow airport Saturday, crashing into the glass doors at the entrance and sparking a fire, witnesses said. Police said two suspects were arrested.

The airport—Scotland’s largest—was evacuated and all flights suspended, a day after British police thwarted a plot to bomb central London, discovering two cars abandoned with loads of gasoline, gas canisters and nails.

“One has to conclude … these are linked,” Dame Pauline Neville- Jones, former head of Britain’s joint intelligence committee, told Sky News. “This is a very young government, and we may yet see further attacks.”

The conclusion that they are linked is speculative at best, but it would not be a shock.

U.S. Airport security has been increased, but the threat level has not been raised.

UPDATE: Fox News (TV) is reporting that the hospital where the occupants of the car that crashed in to the Glasgow airport entrance were taken has been evacuated.